Canyon County District Judge Gene Petty sentenced a 34-year-old Caldwell man on Tuesday to 20 years in prison for possession of child pornography and abusing a 5-year-old girl.
Petty sentenced Edward Stephens to five years fixed-time in prison, followed by 15 years indeterminate, on a battery with the intent to commit a serious felony charge. He was also ordered to serve five years fixed with five years indeterminate on each of the 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The charges will run concurrently for a total unified sentence of 20 years in prison.
Stephens was arrested in March after an investigation by Caldwell Police Department and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force revealed he had hundreds of videos and photos of child pornography in his possession. The case was referred to Idaho authorities by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, where Stephens lived before moving to Idaho.
After receiving the tip, detectives from the Caldwell Police Department served a search warrant on Stephens’ residence and interviewed him. Stephens admitted to detectives that he looked at pornographic images of young children using his smartphone and had been viewing child pornography for several years. He was subsequently taken into custody and booked into the Canyon County Jail.
Several hours after being booked into jail, Stephens was confronted by a woman on a recorded phone call about inappropriately touching a 5-year-old girl.
The call prompted an investigation by the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office. During the investigation, the victim told investigators that Stephens had touched her inappropriately numerous times over the course of several months. Stephens repeatedly declined to speak with investigators about the incidents and refused to submit to a polygraph test.
Stephens eventually entered an Alford guilty plea on a felony charge of battery with intent to commit a serious felony charge. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a jury to convict him.
During sentencing, Petty stated that he was troubled in both cases by “the fact that a lot of these children, including the minor you touched, were really young, especially with the 5-year-old, since it is a hard thing for them to come forward and make a statement on what happened to them. It is concerning when people are targeting children that age.”
Judge Petty also ordered Stephens to register as a sex offender, submit a DNA sample to the Idaho database, and have no contact with the victim or any minors for the duration of the sentence.
Stephens was also ordered to pay $4,000 in fines along with court costs and a $2,500 civil penalty. The prosecutor’s office recommended a longer sentence, with a total unified of six years fixed, followed by 30 years indeterminate, but the judge didn’t agree.
“The defendant in this case had hundreds of images and videos of child pornography and openly admitted that he has been viewing them for years,” said Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Erica Kallin. “Then once he was in jail, investigators determined he had also been sexually abusing a young girl. This man was preying on the most vulnerable people in our community. There is no doubt he belongs behind bars.”